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Thai Vape Corruption

With vapes being banned in Thailand, the door of opportunity is open to corrupt policemen seeking to extort bribes from visitors to the country

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With vapes being banned in Thailand, the door of opportunity is open to corrupt policemen seeking to extort bribes from visitors to the country. Last month, a tourist was relieved of £750 in the town of Pattaya – but this is an issue that covers the entire country. UK travellers have been advised by the Home Office not to take their devices or eliquids with them when visiting.

An unidentified Chinese tourist was stopped on Walking Street in Pattaya at the end of January. Seen using a vape, he was stopped by Sergeant-Major Noppakrit Pornwatthanakit.

Multiple sources state that the Sergeant-Major proceeded to extort thirty thousand baht from the vaper so that he could escape imprisonment for his illegal behaviour.

The sources say that Sergeant-Major Pornwatthanakit began by demanding double the amount that he eventually settled for – calling it a “fine”.

Once he returned to his hotel, the victim spoke to his tour guide who immediately contacted the press in the hope that the coverage would prompt action and the return of the money.

The police say they conducted a probe and discovered reasons to believe the story was genuine. While they speak to witnesses and examine CCTV, the officer has been moved to a post away from the public at Chonburi Provincial Police Operations Centre, according to Major General Kampon.

This isn’t the first time; a couple of months ago a similar story arose.

Three police officers in the Thai province of Songkhla were placed under investigation for attempting to extort bribes from three men landing in Thailand carrying ecigs.

In this case, the men were asked for approximately £250 to make the officers turn a blind eye.

One of the men, Pachara Sirithorn, said that he and his two friends were arrested for the gross crime of having three vapes and a couple of bottles of juice. They had their vape kit seized, their ID cards taken, and had to give a urine test – which they all passed.

Admitting their guilt, the friends said they were prepared to go to court, at which point the officers said this could be avoided by paying £2500. The men refused, the officers asked for £1250, before finally settling on £250.

The men asked for a receipt and were threatened with jail unless they left immediately.

When the story was reported in a newspaper, one reader commented that he had been forced to pay £500 in similar circumstances.

The UK Home Office states: “Vaporisers (like e-cigarettes and e-baraku) and refills are illegal in Thailand. These items may be confiscated and you could be fined or sent to prison for up to 10 years if convicted. Their sale or supply is also banned and you could face a heavy fine or up to 5 years imprisonment if found guilty.”


Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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